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$20 Dinner

Taqueria Ramírez Serves Up Burger Brilliance in a Greenpoint Bar Basement

Phenomenal al pastor burgers find a home in the basement of the Mallard Drake.

12:41 PM EDT on May 10, 2023

The Ramirez al pastor burger with fries at the Mallard Drake, $18

The Ramírez al pastor burger with fries at the Mallard Drake, $18. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

Taqueria Ramírez opened in September of 2021 on sleepy Oak Street in Greenpoint with six different tacos on the menu, no beer, and very little seating. But as soon as word got out just how incredible their food was, there was a long-ass line down the block.

Nothing's really changed at Ramírez since, including the length of the line and, relatedly, how crazy delicious everything is here. The funky tripa; the juicy al pastor; the nopales with crackling chicharron; the longaniza, which is like an amped-up chorizo; the hacked-up bits of beef, or suadero, pulled from the choricera's burbling meat orgy—spoon on some salsa, scarf these suckers down on the sidewalk, and feel the bliss wash over you. 

Pastor, tripa, and longaniza tacos, $5 each at Ramírez. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)
The line for these tacos is no joke. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

Chef Giovanni Cervantes runs things at Taqueria Ramírez with his partner Tania Apolinar. And last weekend, the couple jumped into Brooklyn's burger game with a phenomenal al pastor beauty, served from a tiny window in the basement of the Mallard Drake, a bar about a block away from Ramírez.

The burger window is in the basement of the Mallard Drake. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

The Ramírez Burger is a monster. There are two patties, each a densely packed blend of two-thirds pork and one-third beef, seasoned with a brush of adobo and oozy with melted sharp cheddar cheese. A slice of grilled pineapple gives it that al pastor tang. There's red onion for some bite and a generous slathering of habanero aioli adds to the glorious mess.

Once again: The Ramírez al pastor burger with fries at the Mallard Drake, $18. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

The burger comes complete with a mountain of excellent shoestring fries, which Cervantes said he modeled after his favorites (McDonald's). There's also a vegetarian version with an Impossible patty, for two dollars more. And that's it! That's the entire food menu here at their Mallard Drake outpost, and it is awesome.

Inside the Mallard Drake. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)
Shoot pool before you have burger hands. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

The Mallard Drake is owned by Greenpoint legend Tony Petillo, who also runs Brooklyn Safehouse down the street, which is where Cervantes hosted his first-ever taco popup back in 2016. The bar has only been open since February, but it looks like it's been around for about 40 years longer than that. The space is dark, furnished with beat-up upholstered chairs, and there's an actual (rogue?) smoking area in the covered back patio. Wild stuff. The window where you order your Ramírez Burger is down in the basement, next to the free pool table. Feel free to eat wherever you want. 

Ramírez Burger is located in the basement of the Mallard Drake, 43 Franklin Street between Cayler and Quay Streets, and is currently open on Monday through Thursday from 5:00 p.m to 11:00 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday from 2:00 to 11:00. Cash only.  

The Mallard Drake. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

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